Story By: ERNIE SAXTON / SAMMONS PRODUCTIONS – ALLENTOWN, PA – The most prolific championship winning driver in the history of the Indoor Auto Racing Series Fueled By VP Race Fuels, Erick Rudolph of Ransomville, NY, will begin his quest for a fifth TQ Midget Series title on Friday and Saturday, January 3-4, 2020 inside the PPL Center in downtown Allentown, PA.
Rudolph, also one of the winningest dirt Modified drivers during the 2019 outdoor season, is the defending Indoor Series champion. Rudolph clinched the title by winning the 2019 series finale in Syracuse, N.Y.
Rudolph, who will turn 28 during the month of January, also won the Series title in 2016, 2015 and 2012 and is the only driver to win more than two titles.
“I’ll be driving the same car as last year,” Rudolph said. “Mark Lafler will be with me.”
The Indoor Auto Racing Series Fueled By VP Race Fuels will open its 2020 season in the Allentown, Pa. Tickets for the fifth annual Ironton Telephone sponsored event are on sale at the PPL Center box office. Tickets are also available at www.pplcenter.com or by calling 610-347-TIXX.
Rudolph will be using the two race Allentown Indoor race meet as a springboard toward his quest for a second straight title. Rudolph won each of his four titles driving Lafler-built cars. Lafler has built nearly two dozen of the rugged, fast, remarkably simple cars but he has chosen not to build any more for new customers.
“His cars haven’t changed very much at all over the years,” Rudolph said. “Subtle differences, but very little. Same with the Dave Pippard’s engines we run.”
Rudolph is coming off a very successful 2019 season. In addition to winning the Indoor Auto Racing Series title in March, he was the 358 Modified season champion at his home track, Ransomville Speedway, and at N.Y.’s Utica-Rome Speedway. He also won the prestigious 358 Modified Super DIRTcar Series title giving him four titles in one outstanding season.
Matt Janisch of Nazareth, PA and Ryan Flores of Mooresville, NC, who won the Friday and Saturday Allentown TQ Midget features in 2019 will both be in competition on January 3rd and 4th hoping to keep Rudolph out of victory lane.
The Allentown Indoor schedule calls for doors opening at 6:00PM with racing getting underway at 7:30 PM on Friday. On Saturday, doors open at 5:00PM with racing beginning at 7:00PM sharp. An on-track Fan Fest is available on Saturday at no extra charge to ticket holders who chose the option when making their purchase.
After the two-race event opener in Allentown, the “Concrete Series” presented by BELFOR Property Restoration, the series moves to Atlantic City, N.J.’s Boardwalk Hall on Friday and Saturday, January 31st and February 1st for the 18th annual NAPA Auto Parts Classic.
The “Concrete Series” season finale is on Friday and Saturday March 13th and 14th in a second year return to the brand new Exposition Center located on the grounds of the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse. N.Y.
Rudolph ended the 2018 season with an Indoor victory in December at a special non-point event held on a banked clay oval. The third annual East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals will return to CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton, N.J. with a new date. This race meet, held the last two years in December, has been moved to Friday and Saturday, February 21st and 22nd.
Rudolph will be back to defend the $5,000 to win race honors again driving a dirt wingless 600 Sprint owned by Pennsylvania car owner Tom Fraschetta.
“I kind of like Atlantic City more than the other tracks but only because of where it is and what there is to do there after the races,” said Rudolph.
“Syracuse was nice because there were a lot more people I know personally who were there watching me race, the dirt race was really cool too.”
Though Rudolph missed out on also winning the Super DIRTcar big-block Modified Series title – he was a contender until late in the season – he was pleased with his overall results from 2019 which included 24 wins, third among northeast drivers.
Rudolph admits that he will campaign vigorously, as he has in the past three years, for the Super DIRT Series Big Block title, which is a 30-race grind that stretches into November.
Short term, he’s fully focused on the four Indoor Auto Racing Series events.